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Gender equality in the civil service of Uzbekistan

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Gender equality in the civil service of Uzbekistan

The social and political activity of women and their participation in public administration bodies in the process of making important decisions are crucial for the development of the country.

Sociological research has shown that women’s high efficiency, rapid and persistent decision-making, responsiveness to job completion, and prompt provision of executive discipline allow them to perform their duties effectively in the civil service.
It is also emphasized that a female leader treats the team of the organization she heads as her own family, applying the acquired experience of forming relationships in the family to her work as an advantage of a female leader. Due to this, the increase in the number of women in public administration, in particular, the formation of a corps of potential female leaders - the development of the state civil service is one of the most pressing issues on the agenda.
“The active participation of women in the life of society and public administration is an urgent issue today. The best goal at the center of our national policy is to ensure the strength of families, legal protection, and peaceful life of our women,” President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, stated during the speech at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly. He also mentioned that “for the first time, the share of women in public administration has reached 35 percent,” which is the outcome of systematic efforts to achieve gender equality.
The most fundamental requirement to improve societal welfare is that issues about women’s rights and interests must be given priority. In consequence, it can be stated that guaranteeing gender equality in our nation is seen as a priority of state policy within the scope of the abovementioned indicator. Women’s rights, freedoms, and legitimate interests are consistently upheld by the legal acts that have been passed in this area and by the practical work done within their framework, which enhances their position in society and the state.
The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On guarantees of Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men” establishes that it guarantees the creation of conditions for the participation of persons of different sexes in public administration by ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men in the field of public service.
Direct and indirect discrimination based on gender is not allowed when entering the civil service and during its passage. Equality in the admission of women and men to public service is ensured by qualifications and professional training.
The formation of a personnel reserve for the positions of civil servants and their promotion is carried out with the provision of equal rights and opportunities for women and men.
This principle of equality is also reflected in Article 37 of the updated Constitution of Uzbekistan. According to this norm, citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan have equal rights to access to public service.
In recent years, reforms in the civil service have led to an increase in the proportion of women in senior positions by 35%. However, due to the vertical segregation that exists in our practice and the problem of the “glass ceiling”, women are more likely to work in middle and lower management positions. As a reason for this situation, we can cite a high commitment to a leadership position, and a lack of professional qualifications, knowledge, strength, and potential among women in the relevant leadership position.
To form a good leader out of specialists, they are required to work effectively with staff and make optimal management decisions, develop human resources, introduce innovations, critical and systemic thinking, as well as form the necessary soft skills in the field of leadership competencies.
In addition, the reason for horizontal occupational segregation is that women are more concentrated in networks with lower average wages (services, healthcare, education), and these areas are considered “women’s professions”.
The author of the best-selling book “Peter’s Principle”, Laurence Peter, claims that many capable workers eventually reach a point in their careers where the responsibilities of their roles become too great for them to handle and discontinue developing. Of course, this theory can be observed to a greater extent in the example of women. That is, the constant professional development of female civil servants, caused by family and other factors, is one of the reasons for the asymmetric distribution of men and women in the civil service. This explains the existing sharp vertical segregation and provides for the adoption of additional measures for this.
It should be noted that after the establishment of open competitions by the Agency for the Development of the Civil Service, almost identical requirements were established for everyone, the human factor between the employer, representatives of the personnel department and candidates was limited. Undoubtedly, this has made public service more accessible to women. According to our interpretation of the data, women currently make up 34% of the competition winners compared to 5-8% of participants in the state race in the past.
That is to say, out of 1.7 million candidates, about 428,000 (or 25%) of these women have applied to take part in open competitions. 17,684 of the 51,527 citizens who took first place in the competition were female.
While the first direction of ensuring gender equality in personnel policy is to attract the most potential women to the civil service to increase the attractiveness of the civil service for them, the second important direction is the formation of a corps of potential female leaders through systematic training of the most capable “HiPo” (high-potential) female cadres for senior positions in the civil service.
Importantly that to date, a total of 241 women are actively working in senior positions of executive authorities at the Republican and local levels. Of these, 2 are in the positions of head (Minister, Chairman of the committee), 9 are deputy heads (Minister, Chairman, and Deputy Director), 14 are Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, deputy mayors of regions and Tashkent, 4 are mayors of the capital. the district (city) and 212 are deputy mayors of the district (city).
Moreover, our agency has developed a 2-month 552-hour training program “School for Women Leaders”, aimed at preparing active women for leadership, and work in government agencies in cooperation with the Committee on Family and Women’s Affairs and the Academy of Public Administration.
By the program, 100 young women leaders with high professional potential, initiative, and active participation in the implementation of reforms were selected and training was organized for 2 seasons at the Academy of Public Administration.
Within the framework of this program, the audience expanded their knowledge in such areas as the content of the leading women’s activities: national and foreign experience, results-oriented management, women in management: historical and gender aspects, various areas of public policy, as well as the rapid development of territories, digitalization of public administration, the fight against corruption.
Experienced heads of ministries and departments, highly qualified experts, and practitioners were involved in the training. Various cultural events were also organized for the audience. According to the topics mastered at the end of the course, tests were passed, special surveys were conducted to determine the psychological profile, and a conversation about competencies was organized.
According to the results of the training program “School for Women Leaders”, candidates were entered into the database of the National Personnel Reserve. Currently, there are processes of internships in prestigious foreign educational institutions for women with a high level of foreign language proficiency and recommendations of the most potential and worthy candidates for senior positions of high rank.
Definitely, our laws must be improved by modern advances and national growth. Thanks to this, the law “On Equal Rights and Guarantees of Opportunities for Women and Men”, “gender audit” and “Integrated gender approach” were introduced as new mechanisms for ensuring gender equality.
The primary goals of a gender audit are defined as follows: analyzing the proportion of women to men in state bodies and organizations; evaluating how well state bodies and organizations are organizing their operations using an integrated gender approach, and evaluating how well laws about equal rights and opportunities for men and women are being implemented. Proposals to guarantee women’s and men’s equal rights and opportunities will be developed concurrently.
The Law also stipulates that gender audit is carried out based on the approved three-year plan by the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan in state bodies and organizations within the framework of public control, information and proposals on the results of gender audit are sent to the Republican Commission on Enhancing the Role of Women in Society, Gender Equality and the Family (Commission).
Even taking into account international best practices, gender audit is recognized as a process and tool aimed at identifying problems in ensuring gender equality in the organization, developing recommendations for their solution, and ensuring uniform conditions for women and men in the workplace.
Gender audits in the world began to be conducted for the first time since 2001 within the framework of the integrated gender policy of the International Labor Organization. The fact that gender audits are conducted in state bodies of foreign countries is assessed as a sign that this organization is “socially responsible” and “innovative”.
The main point is that due to the introduction of this institution in practice, the level of ensuring conditions guaranteed by labor legislation at the workplace will be increased, and broad public control over the implementation of legislative norms on working conditions, compliance with workload, corporate environment and personnel policy will be strengthened for everyone.

Farangiz Avazbekova,
Chief inspector of the Agency for the Development of Public Service under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan;
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Law